LIVE: White Sox trail Price, Rays 4-0

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LIVE: White Sox trail Price, Rays 4-0

Monday, April 18, 2011Posted: 11:50 Am
Associated Press

It has been just over a week since the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox last met, but much has changed for both teams.

The Rays look to win for the sixth time in seven games and hand the slumping White Sox their sixth defeat in seven contests when they open a four-game series at Tropicana Field on Monday night.

Chicago (7-8) took three of four from Tampa Bay (6-9) at U.S. Cellular Field from April 7-10, part of a 6-3 start to the season. The White Sox hit .295 while plating 22 runs, as Paul Konerko went 7 for 14 with a pair of solo homers and four RBIs.

Chicago's offense hasn't had much success since the Rays left town, batting .212 and totaling 18 runs while dropping five of six.

"It seems like we were all hot at one time and now we're all slumping at the same time," designated hitter Adam Dunn said following Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. "We have to get back on track."

Dunn has been in the middle of the team's struggles, batting .105 with a homer and 11 strikeouts in 19 at-bats in five games since having his appendix removed.

"I don't feel bad. I feel fine, I just stink," Dunn said. "We're not in any panic mode. We know what we're capable of doing."

The Rays' record was 1-8 after their series against the White Sox, but they won five straight immediately after leaving Chicago, totaling 32 runs in those games. The winning streak ended Sunday with a 4-2 loss to Minnesota.

Johnny Damon was instrumental for the Rays, driving in the winning run in all five games of the streak while batting .348 with two homers and 10 total RBIs, but he left Sunday's game with a bruise on the tip of his left ring finger. He's listed as day-to-day.

"It's very sore," Damon said. "I wanted to try and tough out the game, but thought it was best if I came in and started icing it. At this point, I can't guarantee anything on whether or not I'll be in there (Monday). Time will tell."

Damon is batting .190 lifetime against Edwin Jackson (2-0, 2.89 ERA), Chicago's scheduled starter.

Jackson pitched brilliantly against the Rays on April 7, allowing one run and four hits while striking out a career-high 13 and walking one in eight innings of a 5-1 win. The right-hander, who pitched for Tampa Bay from 2006-08, has posted a 1.44 ERA while winning all three career starts against his former team.

Probable Tampa Bay starter David Price (1-2, 3.92) has had no such luck against Chicago.

Price, who opposed Jackson at U.S. Cellular Field less than two weeks ago, yielded three runs and nine hits in six innings. He has lost all four of his starts against the White Sox, with a 4.88 ERA.

Chicago center fielder Alex Rios has given Price the biggest problems. He doubled twice off Price earlier this month, and is 7 for 11 with two homers lifetime in their matchups.

Price, a 19-game winner last season, earned his first victory of 2011 on Tuesday, allowing two runs and five hits in 7 2-3 innings of 3-2 win at Boston. He finally got a little help, as his offense had failed backed him with any runs of support in his first two outings.

Following his gem against the Rays, Jackson was shaky versus Oakland on Tuesday. He allowed three runs and seven hits and needed 100 pitches to go 4 2-3 innings, although the White Sox eventually won 6-5 in 10.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Preview: Chris Sale starts for White Sox against Rays tonight on CSN+

Preview: Chris Sale starts for White Sox against Rays tonight on CSN+

The White Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (16-9, 3.19 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (1-1, 6.16 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.

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James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields’ time with the White Sox has not gone well. But Monday night was one of the bright spots, and it came against his former team.

Shields allowed just one run in his six innings of work against the visiting Tampa Ray Bays — with whom he spent the first seven seasons of his career — and earned his first win since July 26 as the White Sox opened this four-game set with a 7-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.

Shields didn’t exactly keep the Rays off the bases Monday, running into jams with multiple base runners on in four of his six innings. But he did keep them off the scoreboard, for the most part, getting some help from his defense with a couple double plays. He finished allowing just one run on seven hits with six strikeouts over his six innings.

The win was his first in two months after a brutal August — six starts with four losses and an 11.42 ERA — and a couple of rough outings in September. It was Shields’ sixth victory on the season and fourth since joining the White Sox compared to 18 losses on the season, 11 coming with the White Sox.

“I had a few chances my last few starts to get some wins, but sometimes those things happen,” Shields said. “I’m just trying to finish the season strong right now. Body feels good, arm feels good, so hopefully I can get another win on Saturday to end my season and move into next year.”

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With just one more start on his schedule in the season’s final week, Shields won’t lose a visually upsetting 20 games. Avoiding that number might not make losing 18 or 19 much easier for fans and observers to swallow, but teammates understand what Shields has gone through this season.

“I think we’ve all been through it once or maybe even twice in our career. He works his butt off, though,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He looks at film. He watches everything he’s doing. To come out with the strong outing today, even in the first inning, getting two runners on and getting out of that jam, it goes to show you his resilience. Whenever he got runners on, he looked relaxed and induced a lot of ground balls which we needed.”

Certainly Shields’ teammates picked him up Monday. The two double plays while he was in the game were just half the infield’s total on the night, two more coming in the seventh and eighth, when Tommy Kahnle and Nate Jones put the first two hitters they faced on in each frame. But the double plays helped end those threats and keep the Rays down.

The White Sox struck first with a run in the first inning, Melky Cabrera scoring on Justin Morneau’s sacrifice fly. After the Rays tied it up in the fourth with an RBI single, the White Sox punched back, Frazier doubling, stealing third base and scoring on Omar Narvaez’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of that inning.

And as Shields and the relief corps danced out of jams, the White Sox added to their score. Jose Abreu singled in a run in the fifth, but it was a pair of two-run homers off the bats of Morneau and Carlos Sanchez in the seventh and eighth innings that provided the real insurance.

The win was the third straight for the White Sox, something that while positive won’t provide much solace in a season where competing for a playoff spot is a distant memory.

But, like Shields finishing his season strong, White Sox players in general can create individual momentum for each of their offseasons and into next year with good finishes to 2016.

“We want to end on a positive note,” Frazier said. “Everybody wants to meet their goals. Baseball is the most individualistic team sport there is. You have to have your individual goals just like your team goals, and our team goals are out the door right now. You don’t want to play for yourself, but at the same time play for your pitcher a little bit and help him out.”